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A Real Challenge for Future Genealogists

What is to be the future of genealogy research in light of today's science of procreation?


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Type: Article
Resource: GenWeekly
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Word Count: 600 (approx.)
Labels: DNA Study 
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As the battle over the acceptance of a definition of life rages on, it occurrs to me that genealogists of the future may find it increasingly difficult to sort out who belongs to who. Wilder and wilder variables will be included in the researcher's quest to sort out the family tree. Increasingly, DNA testing of its own may not be able to verify the connection between generations.

Recently, King 5 TV aired a news piece concerning "frozen babies." Frozen babies was the odd tag dropped on the adoption of fertile frozen embryos. Such examples are popping up more and more frequently. Even the circumstance of embryos with the DNA of three people was reported on the website at with the April 2010 article entitled, "Menage a Trois in a Test Tube Revisited."

Missing, lost, or misquoted data about ancestors has always been the cause of lost family lines. So what would happen if adoption of a frozen embryos remained hidden or forgotten in the future? Would the future genealogist be alerted to the fact that later generations would not have any DNA of their grandparents? If such grandparents had passed away and there was nothing to suggest that the DNA was not the DNA of a certain surname, how would you know? Of course the same could be said of the adoption of any child. Any paper trail can end due to the destruction or the inability to access files, leaving a hole in the ancestral line. In such cases, the assumption that the grandson has the same DNA as his grandfather could create a liability to the genealogist researcher. If the adoption passed without notice by the adoptee or such history of the adoption was not disseminated, the researcher could be in for a rather large red herring.

Genealogy research depends on transparency and access to the truth. Closet romances, playing around with the milkman, indifferent sexual orientation, clandestine test tube interaction can all be sources of hidden associations and create wild variable outcomes both in life and in DNA. Such a motto as "Life through better science" might be valuable to couples who can't conceive, but it sure needs to be documented for future historians.

Of course, genealogy is not the only field to be perplexed by such changes in the natural act of reproduction. Courts of law frown on having to be forced into making decisions over the living results. The term "parent" is perhaps already a big legal question. If one of the two components needed to start a life was not of the family, do you consider the child half adopted? And what about surrogates? You could, potentially, have a different sperm, egg, and womb -- how is that to be unraveled? Does it make the woman who raised the child a one-fourth parent? Every state has its own set of laws about adoption. See the website for more information.

Finally, the subject of medical history and the tracing down what kind of bug or genetic mutation one has acquired can be important information. Some states like Ohio do have such subjects covered by law.

While the grownups bicker about their rights to procreate, the child's welfare is often left adrift. Today, when a child can be helped along by an unknown sperm donor, an unknown egg donor, an unknown womb donor, helped along by what is hoped to be a warm and loving couple, life can get confusing. It is really a battle line between science and some religions which view even biological life as having separate origins.

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2011.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

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